Location: Kern River, Sequoia National Forest "Limestone Campground"

Incident Date: 6/12/17

Incident Time: 6:37pm

Case Number: 17-07074

Victim: Billy Lansing

Posted by: Dispatch

On June 12, 2017 at about 1837 hours, The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office received a call for a man who had fallen off a raft in the Kern River just above Limestone Campground. The individual had not been seen in more than 30 minutes.

When deputies arrived on scene, they discovered the individual, Billy Lansing, 27, of Redondo Beach, had actually been floating down the river on an inner tube when the extremely swift and dangerous currents forced him into a small cove leaving him trapped on a rock. Deputies located the individual and initiated a rescue operation.    


At approximately 0055 hours, the Sheriff’s Office Swiftwater Dive Rescue Team with the assistance of Kern County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, the U. S. Forrest Service, California Highway Patrol, and the National Guard were able complete the rescue. Due to the incredibly dangerous whitewater conditions, Deputies requested the National Guard Helicopter assist with hoist operations in order to rescue Lansing as it was too dangerous to place Sheriff swiftwater rescue personnel in the water.


The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office has responded to 8 fatal drownings and more than 25 swiftwater rescues in Tulare County’s rivers since April 14.


Please do not approach the river’s edge or enter white water under any circumstances.  The current conditions in many of our waterways are not survivable despite safety equipment, training or experience in white water.  Inner tubes or other small flotation devices are inadequate and extremely dangerous as they are easily overturned in the swift currents.


The Sheriff’s Office continues to urge the public to use caution when near open waters. The water levels are much higher and swifter this year than in the past and are deadly.


"Stay away from the river's edge and don't enter the water, especially if you do not know how to swim or have been consuming alcohol," Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said. "Arrive safe and go home safe."